Arkansas Residents To Vote On Sports Betting In November
Arkansas is hoping to become the second state in the Southeast to start offering sports betting behind neighboring Mississippi.
The Arkansas Secretary of State recently announced that a proposed constitutional amendment to allow sports gambling will be appearing on the November 6 general election ballot.
Pro-casino group Driving Arkansas Forward surpassed the minimum 84,859 signature requirement, instead garnering 99,988 signatures of registered voters in order to have the bill initiative qualify for the ballot.
Inside The Proposed Amendment
In what will be marked as Issue 4, the proposed Arkansas Casino Gaming Amendment would authorize two additional casinos in AR and redefine “casino gaming” to include accepting wagers on sporting events. An excerpt from the initiative reads as follows:
“... that the Commission shall issue four casino licenses, one to Southland Racing Corporation (“Southland”) for casino gaming… in Crittenden County, one to Oaklawn Jockey Club, Inc. (“Oaklawn”) … in Garland County, one to an applicant to require casino gaming at a casino to be located in Pope County within two miles of Russellville, and one to an applicant to require casino gaming at a casino to be located in Jefferson County within two miles of Pine Bluff…”
The Oaklawn and Southland locations are existing racetrack casinos that already offer electronic table games. These properties, along with the two new casinos, would also be able to offer games played with cards and dice. Sports betting would be permitted as well.
When To Expect Legal Sports Betting In Arkansas
The measure states that if approved, the Arkansas Racing Commission would start accepting casino applications no later than June 1, 2019.
It is ultimately up to the voters as to whether the initiative will pass, and it seems as if attitudes are split at this point. In the wake of the repeal of PASPA, Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson has expressed his opposition to the measure and overall gambling expansion on numerous occasions.
"Historically, Arkansas has opposed any broad expansion of gambling with the scholarship lottery being the one exception. I have supported this more restrictive approach," stated Hutchinson.
A lawsuit has also been filed on behalf of an anti-gambling committee in Arkansas, claiming that the ballot initiative is “misleading” and “impartial”.
An attorney for Driving Arkansas Forward responded to the lawsuit noting that there is no indication that the ballot initiative will not move forward as planned.
“We believe the attorney general was diligent and correct in reviewing this ballot title, and we have no doubt that it will withstand this legal challenge,” stated Nate Steel.
If passed, the law would go into effect November 14, 2018, and sports wagering could be offered as soon as sports betting in Arkansas licenses are issued.
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